In the early 1980s, Phil and Colleen Bowyer bought a steep-sloped section at Waihi Beach.
With panoramic views of the coastline and its rural backdrop, they built a two-storey holiday home at the top.
Eight years ago they decided to transform their ‘beach house’ into an architecturally-designed modern home for retirement living. They made the move from Auckland four years ago.
But after adding a storey underneath for car parking, an extra bathroom and extending the house outwards towards the sea views, the steep section still didn’t offer the type of living they wanted.
Colleen says the slope of the front section made it practically unusable and difficult to maintain. Walking up the steep contour with older knees was unforgiving. It was also hard to mow the grass – even for a contractor – and it didn’t get any use.
“This home is for our full-time retirement living now,” says Colleen, “so it needed to be manageable and we wanted to use the space.
“It was a steep hill of sand; mowing it with a whipper snipper is why I wanted to terrace it,” says Phil, who approached professionals to help.
The couple say Carine, which offers a team who specialise in landscaping, stood out.
“Glenn Sutton from Carine had wonderful ideas and he knew exactly what Phil wanted,” says Colleen.
“We did look at other landscapers,” says Phil, “but they just didn’t appeal. Many weren’t interested in the job – it was too hard for them. That’s why we went with Carine. Glenn was the only one who turned up, chatted, got enthusiastic about the job and came up with a price.”
Work began on the project last July, taking about three months to complete and removing 200 tonnes of excavated material from the site.
Glenn says the brief was that the Bowyers wanted a more user-friendly and landscaped design to the front entranceway and section, and finishing touches applied to link it with their new home.
Phil wanted extra car parking and a low-maintenance area, while Colleen asked for easy access up the side of the driveway so the couple could easily access and enjoy the beach life.
Glenn says his team at Carine took care of the whole project. “We worked out all the levels and angles, did foundation work for the Allan Block walls, excavated the whole site and carted fill from the site and also backfill with drainage and compaction.”
They also took care of diamond 5mm cutting and concrete laying of a new section of the driveway, constructed timber straps with exposed concrete and sealed treads, installed natural paving with stones for parking, built the stone walls of the terracing, removed trees, constructed a pond for the Corten steel plate water feature, installed a water feature and pumps, artificial turf, laid bark and supplied plantings.
“The job’s biggest challenge was the steepness of the grass bank and lack of space to move machines around and construct walls at the same time from the bottom up,” says Glenn.
And Phil’s happy that Carine repaired and re-designed all water infrastructure, which he’d had issues with in the past.
“We envisaged a space that was simple and easy-care,” says Colleen. “Glenn was so helpful with deciding on every aspect of the project – he even suggested which pebble and bark types to use. He had ideas for everything to create the look we wanted. He really has an aesthetic eye.
“For example, the land’s contour was previously so steep that six palms sat down in a gully beside the fence. The way Glenn’s landscaped has exposed them for us to enjoy.”
The design is complete with the Bowyer’s personal touches. The water feature was designed with a McLaren emblem – Phil loves McLaren sports cars – and crafted by his nephew. Old copper-coloured coins from Colleen’s late brother are placed in pots of plants and pushed into the concrete stairway. A small, sloped flowerbed beside it has flowers signifying family members.
“Glenn tidied up the old pohutukawas that have been there for 40 years, and with colour-changeable lighting they look really spectacular at night.”
The Bowyers believe the Carine team has delivered a result that lives up to their vision and meets all of their needs. “In fact, in my opinion it has surpassed our expectations,” says Phil.
Finishing their first summer with the terraces, Phil says the area is totally maintenance-free. “The idea is we can go down there and enjoy it.” There’s now murmuring of a pétanque course.
“All I have to do is water pot plants and turn on the leaf blower every now and again,” says Phil.
Glenn says Carine has its own garden centre, landscape and supplies department and a landscape team, making them a one-stop shop to maximise any property’s full potential.
“Carine’s team has diggers, loaders, bobcats and tippers to tackle most landscape designs and construction jobs,” says Glenn. “This job wasn’t unusual but it was a great challenge, and that’s what we excel in.”